Nasus Build Guide

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Voistriser's Supplement to the Competitive Nasus.

written by rezellmine

Nasus Build

Table of Contents

  • Abilities

    Soul Eater
    Nasus's Soul Eater is easily one of the most easily forgotten ability in his disposal. But it's far from being terrible.
    Although the lifegain from this passive seems negligible, it acts as a powerful agent during your laning phase.
    It's not strong enough for you to rely on this ability, but it will always benefit you throughout the game.
    That, I believe is a very solid design behind a passive ability.

    With that being said, this ability is not nearly powerful enough to focus your build around it.
    That means you won't be building DPS Nasus. A melee dps with barely anything close to an escape mechanism is a recipe for disaster.

    Soul Eater will synergize very well with Siphoning Strike, Sheen, and Fury of the Sands returning a more significant amount when used in conjunction with them.

    Siphoning Strike
    Get a point of this at level two and start building it up.
    Use it while you're laning to last hit minions.
    Use it while you're passing by a creep camp.
    Use it on towers.
    And most importantly, use it to nuke those squishies.

    By the end of the game, you should have around at least 120+ bonus damage from this depending on game length and how well you have farmed up.
    A good indicator to how well you are farming up is if you build him with my skilling order, your bonus damage should be very close to Siphoning Strike's base damage.
    It's easily possible to have more, but anything lower than that means you're not last hitting well enough.

    If you are using my rune/mastery build:
    While laning early game, do not be afraid to take a few hits to last hit a minion with Siphoning Strike.
    You will not take significant damage and your natural lifesteal in addition to Siphoning Strike's Extra damage will make up for the damage you take.

    On top of the infrequency of Nasus being played, Wither is also one of the most underestimated ability that Nasus has.
    However, Aside from his Ultimate, this is your most powerful ability in your arsenal.

    This ability has a duration of a whopping 5 seconds without Merc Treads and near the end of its duration, brings your opponent to a complete halt.
    If that isn't enough, it completely cripples your opponent's physical DPS capabilities.
    This is basically Exhaust on crack.

    A good thing to try to do is when you're hitting towers with enemies near them, before the tower goes down, before they start fleeing to the next tower, use it on them because it will not draw tower agro. They'll regret sticking around that extra second.

    Spirit Fire
    Spirit Fire is your Swiss Army Knife of Nasus; there are simply too many uses for this skill.
    You can use it to farm, lane, zone control, pushing, deny exp/gold, a great asset in teamfights, and sometimes even used to catch that fleeing enemy at low health.

    Early game, you do not want to use this ability for the sole purpose of harassing your enemy's health. Without any sort of disable, it's fairly easy to escape its AoE and take minimal damage for its mana cost to be worth it.

    However, this shouldn't stop you from using it. If you can catch minion waves and you enemies in it at the same time, it's definitely worth it just to put it down.

    Just remember, if you are considering engaging your enemy early game, always have enough mana to use Spirit Fire, Wither, And Siphoning Strike at least once. Their cooldowns early game are fairly high so you won't have to count on using them more than once. Save mana for Fury of the Sands on top of that.

    Unless fights are becoming frequent in your game, you should consider leaving this ability at level 2 or 3.
    At level 2, it will leave all minions at point where one auto-attack will kill them.
    At level 3, it will completely kill caster minions but melee minions will still be alive.
    Basically, it's about whether you want 2 Siphoning Strikes per minion wave or 1.

    However, if you are getting into fights, max it.

    Fury of the Sands
    Yet, another multipurpose skill.
    Most importantly, this is your massive steroid skill.
    It'll give you hp, a respectable AoE damage, and massive amounts of attack damage.
    This ability allows you to forgo building attack damage on Nasus.
    If you're getting into a teamfight, pop Fury of the Sands, ghost, and go to down on their squishies.
    Many people believe that the health boost from Fury of the Sands is negligible, but if you take into consideration Armor and Magic Resistance, your effective health boost can easily exceed 1200 hp.
    You can also use this ability to save yourself or bait by using it as a pseudo-fort pot trick.

  • Introduction

    Hi, my name is Voistriser and I've been around the DotA/LoL community for a while now and I specialize in playing Tanks and Melee characters.
    There's a certain feeling you get when you are just rampaging through your team like a freight truck and ruining everyone's lives running over them. Don't you think? ;P

    I do realize that there is a very highly rated guide already out there written by Hyfe, and I have a lot of respect for that. He's a very good Nasus player and a force to be reckoned with.
    With all due respect to him, I'm going to be writing a guide very similar to his.
    Honestly, with a well established champion like Nasus, it's fairly difficult to deviate from the cookie cutter builds. So I apologize for that beforehand.

    However, I will be trying to take a different approach to playing Nasus focusing more on being a tank/off-tank than general gameplay and laning.

    Also, I'll like to apologize beforehand for some of the theorycrafting in this guide. I'm a big theorycrafter and it's inevitable.

    As always with my guides, I'm not forcing my opinions on anyone and it's your own free will to follow my guide or not. If you have your opinions, I'm open to listen to them and consider them.

    As with Hyfe's guide, this guide is meant for higher level player competitive play and not for low-level pub stomps.

    Without further adieu, let's move on with the guide.

    Also with the introduction to Draft Mode, you can rest assured that nobody is going to ban your favorite champion Nasus :)

  • Skins

    Okay. Before you buy any runes... Before you set any Masteries...
    Buy the Galactic Nasus skin.
    It's too sexy :3

  • Runes

    Here's my perspective on runes for Nasus:

    In my opinion, it's not a very pressing matter to get stronger physical damage on Nasus because quite simply, you're not supposed to be the main dpser.
    You don't need to do enough damage to kill anyone, but enough damage to be a tank.

    Right now you might be saying "But wait, tanks aren't supposed to do damage".
    Well, maybe not. But if you are, you're dead wrong.
    Tanks have a necessity to do damage as much as dps do. Except their threshold for required damage output is much lower than that of dedicated DPS.
    The reason tanks need damage is because they have to be able to disrupt enemies.
    Tanking is not all about taking the damage. You have to be enough of a threat to be focused on.
    To achieve in being threatening to your enemies, you can either have loads of disables like Alistar or Shen or just be all up in their face and forcing them to ignore your team's squishies and focus on surviving.

    This is exactly why Mordekaiser isn't considered a high-tier tank.
    He has no disables, and until he gets his Frozen Mallet/Rylai's Scepter, he doesn't become a big enough threat to be focused on.

    Nasus however, has a very powerful disable and a respectable damage output. And that is exactly how you'll generate threat.

    With that being said, the usefulness of offensive runes such as armor penetration is questionable in my opinion.

    So here's the rune build that I frequently use on Nasus:

    Greater Quintessence of Fortitude
    This rune is a no-brainer for many high level players simply because the health boost is great early game.

    Greater Mark of Fortitude
    Yes. That's right. HP Marks.
    The reason I suggest HP marks will be described later.
    But if you do not like the idea of using runes that are not get color-bonus, you can substitute them for
    Greater Mark of Desolation
    Armor Penetration is still a solid choice for Marks.

    Greater Seal of Replenishment
    The reason I use Mp5 runes for seals is that with these Seals and a Meki Pendant to start, you should never have mana issues while laning without using gold the Chalice.

    However, this is by far not the only way to deal with your mana pool. You can forgo Mp5 runes in favor of building a Chalice early game, or get Mp5/level runes to forgo Meki Pendant in favor of starting with a Doran's Shield.
    Either way, you'll have an item that you won't be building into anything else until late game if you feel like finishing the pendant into a Chalice or sell off the Doran's.
    I believe that both choices are solid for early game, but the ability to upgrade Pendant into a Chalice late game instead of having a dead-end Doran's Shield is slightly more profitable especially with all the HP runes.

    If you don't agree with this, you can use:
    Greater Seal of Evasion
    Many would agree that Dodge Seals are arguably the best Seals in the game.
    But to me, it's uncomfortable to bank on RNG, especially if you're not stacking Dodge like Jax is or get any special benefit other than your Nimbleness mastery.
    It does help immensely when it does work in your favor though, especially if you have the Nimbleness Mastery.

    Greater Glyph of Fortitude
    HP again.
    Honestly, there aren't many Glyphs that really benefit Nasus.
    It's between this rune and
    Greater Glyph of Warding
    They're both solid choices, but I believe that having more HP allows me to forgo Doran's Shield.

    Right now you're probably thinking, "Why would you NOT want to go Doran's Shield?! ARE YOU A NOOB?".
    Well, I'll explain that later in the items section, so sit tight.
    You might not agree with all the HP runes I have, but as I said, it's your choice whether to follow my guide or not.

  • Masteries

    For masteries you go the standard 0/21/9 build.
    If you've read Hyfe's guide, he uses a slightly less standard 0/17/13 build in favor of the Meditation Mastery over Ardor and Tenacity.
    I believe that with all the different possibilities to manage your mana pool, as long as you're managing it, either build is viable.

    The 0/23/7 build looks like this:

    and the 0/17/13 build looks like this:

    However, as great as neutral buffs are, they are far more effective on other champions than they are on Nasus. So I do not agree with Nasus taking any neutral buffs over his teammates.

    So I built an alternative build that includes Meditation but is slightly different.
    This build is 0/19/11

  • Skilling Order

    By general rule of thumb, maxing Spirit Fire, then Wither.
    It's very difficult to deviate from that for reasons described above in the abilities section.

    Your Skilling Order should look like this:

  • Summoner Abilities

    The tried and true combination for most melee characters. Nasus is no different.
    The choice of Cleanse is a no-brainer for any any character, but especially on a melee off-tank, it's perfect.

    Also, remember when I mentioned threat generation?
    Pop Ghost, Wither, then run them down like a lawnmower to zombies.

    However, there are other viable, but less useful choices for summoner spells.

    Unlike most champions in the game, Nasus is actually a fairly powerful 1v2 lane holder.
    With that being said, it's not going to be a walk in the park and you will probably want to go back.
    But leaving a 1v2 lane without a replacement is tough, and Teleport will definitely help you there.

    It's also great for pushing towers, but for that purpose, it's just as good on Nasus as any other champion so it's not worth the special mentioning.

    Flat out overkill with your already powerful Wither.
    But if you're playing Draft mode and you see a bunch of physical dps, you can shut two people down at once.

    Anything else is basically not well suited for Nasus.
    Clarity and Fortify are great on any character because they don't specifically synergize with any champion more than another. They're team spells and are nice to have atleast 1 in a team.

  • Items

    So here's the section that you've all been waiting for.
    Some of you probably skipped the rest of the guide just to get to this section of the guide.
    If so, I implore you to go back and read through the rest of the guide.

    Starting Items:

    My suggested starting items if you are following my personal Rune page/Masteries are:
    [item_icon=Meki Pendant]+

    Otherwise, these are a better choice:

    Now you're probably really scratching your heads going, "Why would you want a Meki Pendant over a Doran's Shield?"

    Well, if you have been paying attention to my Rune Page, you'll see that I already have a giant boost to my HP pool.
    My rune page allows me to forgo the Doran's Shield in place for more mana regeneration.
    This effectively allows me to play more aggressively and lets me have better lane control with Spirit Fire.
    Sometimes, Doran's Shield users will frequently lose lane control and will be rabbit-holed into the tower and will be forced to play defensively because the opposing laners will be flat out better harassers.
    This is a situation that you never want to put yourself in especially if you need to build up your Siphoning Strike.

    Also, if you do manage to force your opponents to tower hug, that's a big advantage to you because they'll have a much harder time running out of your Spirit Fires because of the confined space.

    Also, building Meki Pendant into a Chalice late game does provide a good Mp5 boost in addition to some decent MR that would improve your tankiness.

    Choice of Boots:

    Always a solid choice in 99% of the games for a melee/tank for the Magic Resistance and the CC reduction which you can not get from any item other than Quicksilver Sash which isn't a very cost effective option.

    If you have an enemy team with very low CC and lots of physical damage dealers and no big magic nukers(Which is very rare), you can go for

    Core Items:

    Yeah, that's right. Everyone knows Trinity Force is a powerful item for Nasus but fail at realizing why it's great other than being an Sheen upgrade.
    Sheen should be the first item you build in every game simply because it's a great item for Nasus because it synergizes very well with Siphoning Strike.
    Then, get your rank 1 boots.
    However, hold off on upgrading those boots for a while unless you're really having trouble with CC heavy teams or flat out being ourun.
    Your next item should be either a Zeal or a Phage.
    What I usually do is while building a Zeal, I buy a Ruby Crystal for the extra HP, then finish off the Zeal.
    Why Zeal?
    Because the movement speed and tower-pushing ability is actually more important to Nasus than most people think.
    Let's take a look at Nasus as an off-tank.
    His only initiation ability is Wither. After that, all he can do is pop his ult for a small health boost and run in and create as much chaos as you can. The movement speed from Zeal really allows you to accomplish this and you can't always rely on ghost being off cooldown.
    The movement speed bonus helps you out-run people and makes it harder for enemies to kite you around. Therefore, you become more of a threat to your opponents.
    After Trinity Force, you want to finish off your boots and work on your Guardian Angel.

    If you have read some of the other guides out there, you'll be questioning my choice of not building a Aegis of the Legion yet.
    Yes, it's a wonderful item. It gives the entire team a small boost to their MR and Armor and gives you a decent amount of HP.
    Since you can get the same amount of HP from phage, let's put that stat aside for a second and discuss the merits of having a team buff versus building a Trinity Force.

    If you have noticed, tanks aren't always as important early game as they are mid to late game. Quite frankly, it's actually just more beneficial to have more damage and more cc's in early game fights as squishies are not too much squishier than any tank early game and survivability is more dependent on champion/summoner abilities than items.
    The effectiveness of tanks really kicks in after they have built their second tank item and can actually ignore enemies and plow straight to the important targets.
    So for early-mid game fights, getting the damage, movespeed, attack speed, and hp from Triforce is much more beneficial than having slight survivability better.
    Don't get me wrong here, Aegis is a great item but it holds too much nostalgic value. It's just not that great early game as it once was. Before they nerfed it, I would have definitely rushed an Aegis as my first item after Sheen. Just not so much anymore.

    Now let's build a Guardian Angel. An item that lets you tank better and on top of that gives you an extra life?
    Why not!
    For someone who's supposed to be in the center of the fight rampaging through your enemies, having an extra life is the best thing you can ask for.
    It has well rounded stats and allows you to tank both magic damage and physical damage fairly well.

    Then, you build your Aegis for the team buff for obvious reasons.
    Now you get even more of a good distribution of stats for off-tanking.

    These are your core items, and after that, you'll have the choice of building some other items to further improve whatever you need to improve.

    If your team is keeping up good sustained pushes, you can finally finish off that Meki Pendant into a Chalice for an even better mana regen and more MR.

    If you are against heavy Magical DPS, these are some solid choices:

    This item is an obvious pick against magic users or teams with a lot of CC.

    [item_icon=Force of Nature]
    More MR and more Movement Speed. The health regen is a nice bonus but is nothing magnificent.

    If you are against some strong Physical DPS, these are solid choices:

    AS Debuff and Armor. On top of that a nice CDR boost.
    It's a decent pick, but not the greatest pick for Nasus. Your team's main tank is more suited to have this.

    Just as great as Frozen Heart For Nasus, but it is also more suited for your main tank to have this.

    This item is by far the best defensive item you can have against Physical DPS for Nasus.
    The AoE damage from this item on top of the AoE from your Ult and Spirit Fire can melt through enemies very quickly.

    After you get atleast one of these tank items, you should be around 60-70% damage reduction from both physical and magical damage.
    That alone makes you very beefy and stacking any more defensive items is usually unnecessary and can result in diminishing returns on your items.

    So it's now time to build your luxury dps item to make you even more of a monster.

    Quite frankly, there's only one dps item aside from Trinity Force that actually makes sense on Nasus.
    This is
    [item_icon=Stark's Fervor]
    It decreases your enemies armor, gives you and your team a big boost in attack speed and lifesteal.
    Flat out great item for Nasus.

    Any other item is basically worthless for Nasus or just isn't as good as the ones stated above.
    That's why most guides do not have much of a variation in item builds for Nasus.

    A lot of people are going to ask me why I'm not suggesting Thornmail against Physical damage dealers.
    Well the reason is that in teamfights, people who are not forced to auto-attack you by means of threat, they will instead attempt to go for your squishies.
    You're better off getting AoE damage passively from Sunfire Capes.

  • Build Example


  • Laning

    Nasus is one of the best laners in the game.
    He's so great that usually handling a 1v2 will be no problem for Nasus.
    Just keep using your Spirit Fires to control your lane and keep farming your Siphoning Strike.
    Push whenever possible and keep that lane alive.
    It is unbelievably easy to farm as Nasus and you shouldn't usually have too much problems laning.
    For a more detailed laning guide, you should check out Hyfe's guide for laning isn't the focus of my guide.

  • Farming

    Spirit Fire, Siphoning strike. It's easy enough, no?

  • Working in the team

    As good as Nasus's Laning is, teamfights are his forte. Teamfighting is one the the biggest reasons why Nasus is a powerful character.
    He has two sources of AoE damage, a single target nuke, a slight lifesteal, AoE armor reduction, and a beautiful multipurpose disable.

    Here's a general guide to how a teamfight should be like.

    If you happened to have a main tank, let him initiate. Let him take the brute of the hits. However, you shouldn't be too far behind him. You are the second line of offence.

    While it is your main tank's job to take the brute of the hits and protect your team's squishies, your job should be slightly different.
    Nasus is an off-tank and an off-tank has very different roles than the main tank.
    It is your job to rush through the enemy's defense and destroy their squishies.
    Ult up, pop ghost if necessarily, wither their physical dps and make that squishy's life miserable.
    At the same time, you should be slowly AoEing people down and distrupting team formation by just running over people like a freight truck.
    And whenever possible and necessary help your main tank protect your squishies.

    However, if your team does not have a main tank, you should be the one initiating, but your roles are more or less the same. However, without the main tank, your main focus should be to protect your squishes instead of team disruption. This does not mean that the two roles can be simultaneously achieved though.
    You can break your enemy's formation while protecting your squishies at the same time depending on the situation.

    Just use your basic instincts to survive and win teamfights.
    Just remember, you are NOT the main dps.
    Your purpose is to protect your team and disrupt. If you do your job right, assuming your team is not made of scrubs, they will be able to do their job right and win teamfights.

  • End Notes

    I have to thank everyone who took their time to read my guide.
    I won't disagree that my guide is similar to many of the other guides out there but I did attempt to bring a fresh and different perspective to playing Nasus.
    I apologize if it's too samey and I'll take the guide down if someone has a problem with it.
    Otherwise, feel free to leave quetions, comments, concerns, opinions, and feedback and if you enjoyed it, upvote :)

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